"Daniel Cyrus is back in the side and a major boost to us," Caledonia AIA head coach Jamaal Shabazz said mere days before his team departs on Ash Wednesday for St Lucia to take on Newtown United in a Caribbean Club Championship first round match.
Caledonia AIA have qualified for the Caribbean series for the first time by virtue of a second-placed finish in the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League, their best-ever showing.
Cyrus, 20, is one a season-long loan to Caledonia from another local club, FC 1st Santa Rosa, and has only just returned from the United States where he was on trial with the Sporting Kansas City (Wizards). Yesterday 1st Santa Rosa's coach Keith Look Loy confirmed that Cyrus had a successful trial.
"The trial was successful," Look Loy declared. "But the offer from the club was not accepted. They liked the player very much and agreed that he could be a big asset to them this season, but the numbers (were not) adding up. So, he has returned and will be with Caledonia for the CFU qualifiers."
Cyrus represented T&T at the 2007 FIFA Under-17 and 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cups and has grown into a steady defensive force for AIA this season. He received rave reviews from Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes, who reported on their website that he had improved with every session.
Shabazz told the Express that also joining Caledonia AIA was striker Juma Clarence, who scored in T&T's narrow 2-1 defeat to Italy at the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Clarence has played in Turkey since impressing at the FIFA competition.
Shabazz revealed that it will cost Caledonia AIA over $100,000 just to go to St Kitts-Nevis for the first leg tie. They have prepared for Newtown United with warm-up victories over the National Under-20 squad (4-2) and the National Under-23 squad (3-1) and will also play Defence Force on Carnival Sunday.
"The effort of two sponsors, Neal & Massy and the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), have greatly assisted us," Shabazz said. "So far the preparation has been good. The guys have committed themselves despite the Carnival season, but they have still been able to take a little wine to the side."